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Utah in the Weeds Episode #81 - Know Your Rights with Tim and J.D.

What to Expect in This Episode

Episode 81 of Utah in the Weeds is for anyone with questions about the laws surrounding Utah's Medical Cannabis program. Utah Therapeutic Health Center's Tim Pickett and WholesomeCo Inc.'s J.D. Lauritzen hosted an online session to answer frequently asked questions about the program.

Introductions [01:25]
Utah's Medical Cannabis Act — A Brief Timeline [05:42]
Current Legal Medical Cannabis Requirements in Utah [08:41]
Forms That Aren't Allowed [10:45]
Purchase and Possession Quantity Limits [12:56]
Where Can I Legally Vape or Ingest Cannabis? [16:58]
What to Do If You Are Stopped By Law Enforcement [20:45]

GUNS
Can I Buy A Gun If I'm a Medical Cannabis Cardholder? [22:50]
Cannabis is Illegal in Federal Buildings and on Federal Lands [23:48]
Your Gun Rights As a Utah Medical Cannabis Cardholder [24:24]
Concealed Firearm Permits [24:46]
Private Firearms Sales to a Restricted Person [26:02]
You May Have To Choose Between Being a Gun Owner and a Medical Cannabis Cardholder [26:33]

PARENTING
Treating Cannabis as Another Strong Medication [27:52]
Secondhand Smoke [28:30]
Cannabis, Breastfeeding, and Pregnancy [28:37]
Don't Mix Cannabis With Alcohol or Other Drugs [29:11]
Your Treatment as a Medical Cannabis Patient in the Justice System [30:09]
Talking To Your Kids About Medical Cannabis [31:32]

FAQs and AUDIENCE QUESTIONS
Can I Grow My Own Cannabis at Home? [32:05]
THC Testing Info [34:31]
Will a Medical Card Protect My Job If My Employer Tests Me for THC? [37:13]
Isn't It Good Enough That My State and Many Others Have Legalized Cannabis? [39:10]
Am I Better Off Having a Medical Card Than Not Having One? [40:46]
Info for a Medical Cannabis Patient on Probation [44:04]
Can I Become a Nurse If I'm a Medical Cannabis Patient? [46:26]
What If My Vaporizer Device Gets Too Hot and Accidentally Burns My Cannabis? [49:45]
What Do I Need to Legally Carry My Cannabis? [51:08]
Will Utah Address Medical Cannabis Price Fixing in Future Legislation? [52:51]
More Info for Gun Owners [56:11]
Is It Legal for Me to Make My Own Edibles/Butter? [58:31]

DISCLAIMER: This presentation is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute official legal advice. Contact your attorney for further clarification on legal matters in your jurisdiction.

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:

OK, well, let's get started. Welcome everybody out to ah... it's not a "lunch and learn."  It's not like a "dinner and learn." It's some, you know, webinar. I don't love that term, really, but I mean, I guess that's what it is. You're online and you're watching. You're watching a couple of dudes, you know, talk about cannabis. Know Your Rights. I'm excited
about this because I love to talk to you, J.D. and we get so many questions about the law.

J.D. Lauritzen:

So I've been getting them for a long time, too, so...

Tim Pickett:

I'm sure, I'm sure. So topics we're going to go through, we'll go through a little bit about the Utah Medical Cannabis Act because I think a refresher is in order, current legal requirements to have and possess cannabis in Utah and a card. And then we really get into questions, right? Questions that we get all the time. We'll answer first and then we'll give a chance to everybody who is participating or here in the audience to ask any question that you want. And hopefully we can, you know, we have an answer for it. So I'll introduce myself first, I'm Tim Pickett. I'm the founder of Utah Therapeutic Health Center. We have six clinics across the state and we specialize in Medical Cannabis evaluations and the management of the patients. We
take care of people who need to use Medical Cannabis for their health. J.D., I'll let you introduce yourself.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, thanks, Tim. So my name is J.D. Lauritzen. I'm the head of legal compliance and government affairs at WholesomeCo Inc. We are one of, I think, now five vertically-integrated
cannabis companies in Utah. We cultivate and we also have a pharmacy in West Bountiful. I've been in the cannabis space now for, man, I think, coming up on, it'll be three years in December. I was in private practice at a law firm called Christensen & Jensen when I first became involved in the cannabis industry as an attorney for businesses.

But I also advised some patients on some issues and some other things. So I made the jump to WholesomeCo earlier this year towards the end of April and have really, really enjoyed it. And so I'm just excited to be here tonight because we get to talk about all the things that I talk about every single day, and I hope to get some, maybe some new questions that I haven't heard before, but definitely happy to answer all of the kind of "old hits," if you were.

Tim Pickett:

Right. And, you know, you never... I think you're starting to say this less and less: "The Leafy Lawyer."

J.D. Lauritzen: 

Yeah, that's I mean, yes, that is still who I am. I am "The Leafy Lawyer" that was my... that's my self-branding moniker, but also, you know, it's just now that I'm with WholesomeCo, you know, it just it gets said less. But yes, if you've heard of "The Leafy Lawyer" before, that is me. It's just kind of weird to call myself by, you know, my moniker. Yeah, I've never really become comfortable with it. I like, you know, other people to other people to say it.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. So I'll put a plug in for Discover Marijuana, the YouTube channel, because J.D.'s on this season. We release a new episode every single week. It really is just education about cannabis
and Utah cannabis. We have a lot  of videos there that will... that really just help people understand the plant and how to use it or, you know, our opinions about it. It's a great resource for patients. I also host Utah in the Weeds podcast, and you were a guest J.D., I think, on episode number four, oone of the first episodes.

J.D. Lauritzen: 

Yeah, I think actually, maybe it was episode, I want to say 16.

Tim Pickett:

Oh, OK. 16.

J.D. Lauritzen: 

And then you guys, then you had me on for the one-year anniversary,

Tim Pickett:

Yes.

J.D. Lauritzen:

And then I did a little bit of audio with you at Dragonfly's event on 4/20 this year. So yeah. And then I remember you wanted to have me on at WB's Eatery. But we... I nixed that because I had a face full of food, so...

Tim Pickett:

Yes, that's right.

So let's talk. Let's jump right in. Let's talk about the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. So take us through this whole thing, will you?

J.D. Lauritzen:

For sure, yeah. So I mean, I think a lot of people know, I mean, we just passed the third anniversary of the passage of Prop 2, which passed. The voters passed that in 2018, which legalized medicinal use in Utah. However, as a lot of the people probably know as well, before the law could take effect, the Utah Legislature took up the Prop 2 in a special session and passed HB 3001, which did make some significant changes to Prop 2. And since that time, there's been at least what one special session. And then each year the Legislature has made changes to the law. There will be more changes coming this legislative session, and, we'll talk about later at least one issue that was removed from Prop two that was really important to patients here, and we hope to see it return at some point. But that's where the Medical Cannabis stands in Utah, from a legal standpoint.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah. And you were describing this as basically every chance the Legislature gets, they change it. But I think they've made it better every time. Would you would you agree with that? Better for patients?

J.D. Lauritzen:

You know, I think yes and no. I think there are some things you would disagree with, but I do think they've shown a willingness to move the legislation forward and not just remain stagnant and stuck in their ways. I know people will say, "Hey, there's not enough cultivation. There's not enough this or that, prices or this or that." Not all of that is always tied to legislation. And so what they have shown a willingness. It has changed every single, every single session.

And you've kind of gotten to a place now where they focus on not only industry but, last session, you saw a consumer, a consumer protection bill that was ran and passed by Senator Luz Escamilla. So there is at least one lawmaker that has been pushing reform for patients, which has been good. A lot of the other reform has been industry-focused. And I think we're getting there. Do I think it's a perfect, you know, a perfect law? No. But do I think it's inherently flawed and set to fail? No, I don't believe that either.

I think we're kind of somewhere in between. And as part of my job with government affairs, you know, we interact with lawmakers and stuff like that to try to push things and at WholesomeCo, you know, we truly are a "patient first" company. So everything we think about, even when it comes to legislation, is ways to make cannabis more accessible for Utahns. And our goal is at some point to have a WholesomeCo product in every single patient's home and for any patient or person that wants to be a Medical Cannabis user for them to be able to do so. So that's the mission that we wake up and strive towards each day.

Tim Pickett:

Sure. So let's talk a little bit about the cannabis requirements. I'll talk a little bit about this. So, to be a cannabis patient in Utah, you have to have a cannabis card in order to purchase medical cannabis at one of the 14, now, Medical Cannabis pharmacies they call it, or dispensaries, as everybody else calls it. You can only get medical cards through a registered QMP, a Qualified Medical Provider, like myself or one of the PAs or nurse practitioners or physicians that are registered with the state. So that takes four hours of additional education. It takes a registration fee. We have to register with the state, and we're the only ones licensed, currently, to authorize people to use cannabis in Utah.

You also have to have, patients have to have a qualifying medical condition of which there are 15. You can find those both on our site. UtahMarijuana.org. I'm sure Wholesome has some information about that on their website, and the state has information on their cannabis site as well. The card can be used at any of the pharmacies. You can, in fact, go down to Beehive in West Valley. You could buy product there. If you found it there, you could go to Wholesome that same day to get another product if you happen to do that. So the card is... it's universally accepted.

And then the other thing that I will say is all of the purchases on that system are tracked. So there are limits, and I believe the limits of the... we might have a slide about this in in a minute. But the limits that patients can purchase are set up by their Qualified Medical Provider like me or by the state. The maximum amount people can purchase is four ounces of flower, which, to be honest, is more than... just the vast majority of patients are using a lot less than that.

Forms that aren't allowed, we can focus a little bit about. You cannot use a flame legally in Utah. And from my standpoint, I liked this, J.D., even though, you know, we could, we can go back and forth on this. But from a strictly medical standpoint, there's no real reason to use a flame because the combusted plant material goes in your lungs and that is harmful. Period. Right?

J.D. Lauritzen:

For sure, and I would also just point out for people that this is one thing that was, you know, mirrored from Prop 2. There was no flame allowed. So this is not something that was changed. I have a lot of personal feelings about this. But I would, Tim, I would wholeheartedly agree with you. From a purely medical standpoint, vaporization is a much better way to ingest your cannabis and much more efficient, right? You don't lose nearly the number, all the cannabinoids and things that you do from combustion. Exactly. So yes, it's overall a much better experience for people. Although most people, if they've been using cannabis for at least a few years, are much more comfortable with combustion. But just understand that is not allowed here in Utah, and you can face consequences for combusting your cannabis, unfortunately.

Tim Pickett:

Right and vaporizing doesn't mean you're just having to use, like, a cartridge. We're talking about... you can take raw cannabis bud, raw cannabis flower, you grind it up, you put it in a device like this Firefly that's shown here, and that essentially heats up the flower to a temperature above 320 degrees Fahrenheit, below 450 degrees Fahrenheit. And, in that window, the cannabis becomes... the vapor is released, right? And those cannabinoids are activated and then you inhale them, so you're not inhaling the combusted plant material, but you are still able to use flower, which I want to make sure that people understand. Because when we talk about vaping, everybody kind of goes to the vape cartridges, right?

So purchase and possession quantity limits. I touched on this a little bit before, but we as QMPs or providers, we can set those purchasing limits based on what the patient needs to purchase. And this again, I feel like this is debated a little bit in the industry and amongst medical providers.

Here's the bottom line for me: I think purchasing limits are appropriate for patients for a couple of reasons. One, if you're using an ounce of flower and then all of a sudden a patient needs to use four ounces of flower, then I should be involved in that discussion for their health, right? Because something has changed in the patient's health. So just like any other medication, if the use goes up, then we want to be involved in trying to take care of the patient. What's going on? Is the pain worse? Is the condition worse?

Secondarily, from a legal standpoint, diversion is a real issue. And the more people are buying, I feel like the more chances people are selling it to their aunt or their cousin. J.D., do you think that's part of the limit, the restriction, that they put on patients?

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, I do think so. But I also I think it's important for people to understand.. people in Utah really like to compare markets from other states, for a variety of reasons. And I think it's important to understand that the purchase limits here in Utah are actually quite expansive compared to even some adult-use states. So... but I mean, I think that's one of the big worries always is theft, diversion, and loss, right? And we face that all the time, right? That's part of my compliance job to make sure that that doesn't happen, but certainly they had to put some type of limit on it.

But like I said, it's important to know that Utah does have pretty expansive possession limits. Yeah. And this is in one 28-day period. But, as is pointed out on this slide, you also need to be careful how much you have, in total, on you because if you somehow were to have twice the legal, you know, more than twice the allowable limit, you're facing a controlled substances charge. So just understand that kind of... if you are purchasing quite a bit of cannabis, you want to be careful about how much you have at any one time because you may run yourself into, sadly, a felony without even the intention.

True.

J.D. Lauritzen:

And there's, now, I think there's enough supply that people can purchase that if they want to. But we don't get very many patients that reach their limits each month at our pharmacy.

Tim Pickett:

No, and the state, the other thing about purchasing limits is the state system tracks every purchase. So every patient's purchases are tracked in the system and then tallied against the QMP's recommendation, total purchasing limits and/or the state maximum limits. And they don't go over that. And as like you're talking about the consumer protection. one of the legislative changes in the spring was to add that pharmacy check at the purchase, right? So that we make sure that nobody's getting too much and we have much more compliance.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yep, and we do it on the front end in the back end. So when it when a patient comes to our pharmacy, we check their limits before they're even allowed to come in and shop. If they getting close to their limits, we let them know how much they have left and then we do do that pharmacist check, or in the process of doing that pharmacist check at the end to make sure they get all the right product and everything like that. So it's being done in multiple areas, at the pharmacy and all pharmacies do it a little bit differently. But, yep, that is one thing they put into the law to make sure that people were abiding by the limits.

Tim Pickett:

Oh, this is... OK, I'm excited to get into these because I remember going through them with you. Where can I legally vape or ingest cannabis? Yeah, the park? The mountains?

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, the law tries to make it as clear as possible that, absent an emergency medical condition, which is in the law, which is in the Utah Code, there is a place where they define what an "emergency medical condition" is. Absent that, you are not supposed to use your cannabis in public view. Now what is public view and what is not? We could definitely drill down on that, but what I tell people is: you are certainly safe consuming it inside your own home. And, outside of that, I think it's a matter of interpretation. So as a good lawyer would always say, well, it depends, and people don't like that answer, but that's the long and short of it. So in your house? Absolutely. Outside of your house? You know, I think you run a risk. But anywhere that you are outside of the public's view, consuming your cannabis, you know, you are safe. But if you are truly a person that is having an emergency medical condition, do not hesitate to consume your cannabis, right? Stand on your rights, understand what the law says. But you should review the Code section that defines what an emergency medical condition is.

Tim Pickett:

Sure. And then we've left this little blurb in the bottom. You may not consume cannabis in the presence of a person younger than 18. That's not in the Medical Cannabis Act. That's in the Controlled Substances Act, and we had talked a little bit about that. Whether or not this is technically in the rules or not. I would say from my standpoint, this is just good. This is just good "best practice" consumption.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, I think both of those bullet points are exactly that. But there it is important to understand when you look at the Utah Controlled Substances Act, they specifically exclude the use of medical cannabis to treat a qualifying condition. I will have to read a little bit deeper after we came across this earlier today to see what the applicability is.

But I think some of these things are just kind of best practices to stay to stay out of trouble because, sadly, even though I myself am a cardholder, and I feel like I should be able to consume my cannabis when I see fit and, in some ways, where I see fit. We need to just be careful because, as much as we feel comfortable with it, it is still a federally-illegal substance that has only been legal here in Utah for three years, and there are still law enforcement officers, as I'm sure we'll probably talk a little bit later, that still don't see it that same way. And I've heard patients say they've been pulled over, they've been cited, they've had their cannabis confiscated.

And the answer that the officer has given them is, "I don't really know what the laws are surrounding cannabis in Utah, so I'll just let... I'll just let you figure it out with the prosecutor and the judge." And even sometimes the judges and the prosecutors don't necessarily know. I think things have gotten better, overall, as we've had more time to kind of digest the laws here in Utah. But to me, that is the wrong way to police cannabis.

So I say all of that, for all of you in attendance to say, be careful, be extremely careful with your cannabis. You have certain rights, but understand that even if you have those rights, not everyone might understand them and might not see them the same way as you. For law enforcement, cannabis has been low-hanging fruit for a long, long time, and they don't want to give it up. But there are other officers that don't want to be bothered with cannabis and are totally in line. It just kind of depends on the luck of the draw, right? Right. And I think people living in more rural areas sometimes need to be a little bit more careful in this regard.

But if you are stopped by law enforcement, there's kind of a good little script you can follow. You can ask them why they pulled you over. And once they tell you that that's that gives you the reason for the stop. If they try to continue asking you questions, you can politely say "I'm not discussing my day or my evening." They continue to ask questions, you can say "Am I being detained or am I free to leave?" And if you're being detained, you then invoke your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. And then you don't say anything until you're in the presence of your lawyer.

And I'd also point out that you should be careful if you are arrested and you're taken into custody. Any phone call that you make from the jail is going to be recorded, so be very careful what you say there, too. If you do talk to your family, I would recommend you're saying, "Hey, I've been arrested. I need you to find a way to bond me out."

Or if you're going to go in front of the judge, just be very vanilla and not say anything. Because truly, once you've been Mirandized, anything you say can be used against you. Now, if you aren't read your Miranda rights, that doesn't mean the arrest was bad or anything like that. So for any of this stuff, I'm always happy to chat in greater detail because we could go on and on and on for an hour or so, but I think that's just kind of a basic thing to do when law enforcement pulls you over.

And another thing: always decline a field sobriety test. In Utah, they are optional. You have to take the chemical test unless you want to run the risk of losing your license for a certain period of time. But you can always decline a field sobriety test in Utah. They are optional. And I will say this too: I understand people get very nervous when they're pulled over, and they just want to help.

But if cops are asking a lot of questions, it's because they're hoping you will help them to build a case against you. And never consent to a search of your vehicle or your home. Absolutely not. Make them produce a warrant for your home and for your vehicle. They're going to search it anyways, but never consent to the search, because it'll make it really tough for your lawyer on the back end to be able to help you sufficiently.

Tim Pickett:

This is good info. OK, let's talk about guns. The bad news, right? This is really just the bad news.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, it's...

Tim Pickett:

And, really, we tried, we tried, and we tried to find ways to let people legally, technically, buy a gun. And it just seems like this isn't... it just isn't the case, because we knew you couldn't buy a gun. Like if you go to Cabela's and you have a card, then you have to fill out the ATF form, right? That form that you have, the federal form where you have to check that box that says, I don't do... I don't do illegal drugs, but it's a federal form, so you either have to lie or you have to not buy the gun. But you've even gone in further to this with private sellers.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, for sure. And I think just sadly, because cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance, cannabis and guns are an absolute no-no under federal law. So be careful if you're traveling and even without a gun. If you travel to a national park or you travel onto federal land or you go to a federal building and you have cannabis with you, you are in violation of federal law. So that's something important to understand, especially people that like to go camping and explore the wonderful places we have here in Utah. You know, in the National Parks, be very, very careful. That's something I will I will tell you, gun or not. That's just, you know, with the way the federal law is. But yes, when it comes to guns, it's just it's just a no-no. Sadly, that's the way it is under federal law.

But here in Utah, we, the lawmakers have passed some laws to make it difficult or actually to outright prohibit local law enforcement to restrict your ability to acquire or possess a firearm based solely on your possession or use of cannabis in accordance with state medical laws. So they essentially can't put forth any time or resources into enforcing federal cannabis laws. The question we probably get, the more I get asked the most about is concealed carry.

And it's not an easy, I guess actually, it is a pretty easy answer. It's just not one people want to necessarily hear. So, if you are already a Medical Cannabis patient and you go to get your concealed carry permit and BCI, who is who administers that program, learns that you are a Medical Cannabis patient during that process, they will deny you your card, your concealed carry permit, excuse me. Kind of conversely, if you are not a Medical Cannabis patient, but you have a concealed carry permit and you get your card after you get your concealed carry permit and BCI learns of it, then your card will be revoked. And so really, you either have to... and my understanding is there may or may not be questions about that when you go to get your concealed carry. So you'll either have to not tell the truth, lie by omission or what have you.

So as an attorney, I can't ever say to people, "Oh, well, hey, get your concealed carry permit and then get your card and hope you don't get caught," right? Like that's.. I can't ever say that to anyone. Right. And then, you know, the other way that I used to talk a lot about, "Hey, here's how you can possess, you know, purchase a weapon," was through a private seller, not go to Cabela's. You don't have to go through that. You don't have to fill out the ATF form.

However, even for private sellers, if they know you're a restricted person and there's a variety of reasons for which you could be a restricted person, and they know that and they sell the gun to you anyways, you've both committed a federal crime and face up to, I believe it's ten years of imprisonment. So I say all of that to say this, and this is hard to say. I myself am not a huge Second Amendment person, but I absolutely have no issue with gun ownership and all of that stuff. But you may have to choose between being a gun owner and a Medical Cannabis patient, without the fear of federal kind of reprisal. Now, do I think the feds are going to come to Utah after a single gun owner? Absolutely not. But you would run the risk of federal prosecution.

And even Utah's constitutional carry law here that we recently passed doesn't really change things. So it may be your gun or your cannabis card, sadly.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah, I think that this is one particular area where guns and cannabis, that's where prosecutors kind of go after people in my, the people that I know, right? The guys who work for the prosecutor's office, they don't care... at the higher levels, they don't care about the cannabis, but the guns they really care about. And so when you put the two together, it just tends to get people in trouble.

OK, so I'm a cannabis patient and a parent. How can I protect my kids from legal issues? So this, to me, comes down to best practices as a parent with relationship to any strong medication. And cannabis is essentially no different to me than Percocet from a parenting standpoint. I think you should definitely lock up your Percocet, your strong medications, any controlled substance, and cannabis would be no different. We, in fact, sell these little bags that people can use, a little Skunk bag that has a luggage lock on it, because I think it's appropriate. Keep your medicine on the shelf. You keep it kind of locked away from the kids.

You don't allow... You don't want your kids around secondhand tobacco smoke, so you wouldn't want them around secondhand cannabis smoke. The law says, and good medical practice says, that pregnant women and breastfeeding women should not use cannabis. We just don't know enough about the endocannabinoid system development in the fetus in these little kids and infants to feel like it's safe, even though, on the outskirts, there's going to always be the exception to the rule.

But in Utah, you can't be pregnant or breastfeeding and use or have a cannabis card. And then certainly it's the most danger is mixing medications and alcohol and other drugs are always a bad idea. This is more of a generational thing though, J.D. It's actually more 30... I think it was 32 and up tend to mix cannabis and alcohol much more than the younger generation. Gen Z and the younger millennials tend not to mix. And I mean, I feel like it must be because I was raised with more alcohol than they were.

J.D. Lauritzen:

And the other thing is... Well, also, just seeing the benefits of cannabis, right? Just in general. Right? Yeah. I think it's taking a lot of people away from alcohol. I'm actually a person that's exactly that, right? You know, I haven't had a drop of alcohol since 2017, and I credit cannabis with helping me to stay away from it. So I think you definitely do see that. The one thing I would say, Tim, and before you can maybe get to the last kind of bullet point is: it's important for patients to know that there are certain protections in the law for you as a cannabis patient, right? Your use of cannabis is not to be treated any differently by a judge or jury, any sort of decision-maker when it comes to child custody.

All of these things any different than your use of any other prescribed, controlled substance. So understand that you have those rights to have it be considered the same, but that also doesn't make it a silver bullet. If your cannabis use is impacting your ability to parent or your ability to basically act in the best interests of your child, they're going to consider that the same as if your alcohol use was not in the best interest of your child or your use of another prescribed, controlled substance. But understand, it is to be considered the exact same way.

Tim Pickett:

Yep, and to the last point: talking to your kids, making cannabis medicine is one of the biggest, the biggest pushes that I would have, biggest arguments that I make. The faster that society can make cannabis a medicine and less recreational, less about adult-use recreational. I think the faster we get over a lot of the stigma around it... So, I'm a big believer in talking to your kids about cannabis, talking to your kids, about the use, being somewhat honest about that because you'd be honest about the other medications you ltake, if you needed to, and it's important for your kids to understand. I mean, I have a 16-year-old, I have a 13-year-old. We have these conversations. They get asked about what I do for a living and they need that education or they have nothing to say, right? And then we're just still feeding the stigma if I'm hiding it from them, right? Can I grow my own cannabis at home? No? Did we give that away?

J. D. Lauritzen:

[Laughter] Yeah, so I think a lot of people here probably know that under Prop 2 patients that were living more than 100 miles from the nearest medical cannabis pharmacy would have been eligible to grow up to six plants. Sadly, in HB 3001 that did not... that provision was removed. It was fairly unpopular amongst members of the Legislature. It was also unpopular amongst some voters, so it was probably the most controversial thing that was in Prop 2. But I, from a personal standpoint, absolutely support a patient's ability to cultivate their own cannabis at home.

And I'm hopeful that's something that will change in the future. I think every patient should have the right to choose whether or not they want to cultivate their own cannabis. And I'm hopeful that, like I said, at some point, the tides will shift on that. It's just, still at this point, it seems to be quite unpopular, but I would recommend that everyone on this webinar and anybody continue to push for those you know, those rights, as well as caregiver rights and the ability of patients to give medicine amongst each other.

Cannabis is very much based upon community and giving. And I think not having patients have the ability to cultivate their own cannabis and not allow people to have co-ops and to give amongst one another to those that are in need is, in my view, criminal. So, hopefully, that will change. \

Tim Pickett:

Yeah, I agree. I think there are some real good reasons why I don't want everybody to grow. And then there are some really great reasons why I want everybody to be allowed to. I think the education is important. You know, if you are going to grow, if we allow that, we have to educate our population about organic, you know, and pesticides and then inhaling that sort of stuff. So this is one of these things where I'd say you've got to have good education about growing your own. You certainly can't do it legally here in Utah, but I think we end up getting it. I think it takes five, I think it definitely takes more than the next three years, but I think we end up getting grow. But you can't grow now. Got to buy it. Will a medical card protect my job if my employer tests me for THC? So, we actually have a question about this online, and I'll go through this a little bit, some testing information.

So, let's just back up and talk about THC testing in general. So, this graph shows the different methods of testing: breath, oral, blood, urine, hair. So we all are familiar with urine testing. That's kind of the gold standard. It's the cheapest testing method. It is, definitely. Breath is the only... breath testing is the only test, that I know of, that can test for recent use in the window of, like, being high, being stoned. Breath test is the only one because it's going to take 30 hours on average, 30 hours, a day to three days for a urine test to even come up positive in a cannabis-naive patient. But urine might last in your system months.

OK, so everybody knows. Urine test is kind of the gold standard. We test for 11-nor-tetrahydrocannabinol. It's the metabolite that ends up in the blood that is excreted in the urine. A positive test, that depends on the lab and it depends on your employer, which... what level a positive test will check the box. So it's going to be positive within about one or two days of taking cannabis or inhaling or whatever consuming you do.

And. 35% of consumers will be THC-negative in about a week, and about 75% of people within two weeks will have a negative test but know that hydration, the amount of fat you carry on your body and the amount you're consuming regularly plays a very significant role because in the studies.. You might have a patient, they have patients that would be... they would go a week and then test and they would be negative and they would go an additional week and not take cannabis and be positive because they're not hydrated on the day they tested. So kidney function, which is really just a measure of hydration and stuff , plays a big role, so for people that are concerned about testing, usually within two weeks, you'll be, you know, there's a 75% chance, essentially, that you can be clean. But that's just info for you.

Now let's talk about the law associated, like, with "Is this protection?" and J.D., I mean, the answer really is that it depends, right?

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yep, it's another "it depends" question. So, for those people working for state and local government entities and the like, there are protections. You cannot be terminated or have an adverse employment action taken against you solely for a failed drug test. But if you are intoxicated on the job or your cannabis consumption is impacting your job performance, then they can take adverse action against you. A drug test, just in and of itself, will not risk your job. But if a state or local government has some type of federal funding or would impact federal licensure or anything like that, they don't have to abide by that.

So it's not... it's a protection, but it's a slight protection. Now, when it comes to private employers. And I think this kind of goes to the question that we've been asked about. If your area, your employment agreement has a "no illegal substances" usage, when it says medications of various kinds are OK. Am I protected as a cardholder? Well, that depends, right? Because if they when they mean illegal substances, are they applying federal law, which private employers are certainly still allowed to do? Or are they just applying Utah law? So you'd want to get some clarification there.

But just to be as clear as possible, private employers do not have to accommodate Medical Cannabis usage, which means they can still do pre-employment drug screenings. They can do drug screenings while you work for them. They can terminate you for any reason when it comes to cannabis. So I would love to see that change, but that's likely one of those things. It's going to take a change in federal law as so many of these things we talk about.

You know, sometimes people wonder, "Well, isn't it good enough that my state, and many other states have legalized cannabis?" Absolutely not. Federal law still needs to change. And if anyone ever tries to convince you of rescheduling, please respond to them accordingly and say, no, we need de-scheduling and understanding why is really, really important. De-scheduling cannabis completely from the Federal Controlled Substances Act will take care of so many issues like this. Issues like housing, issues like gun ownership, so many different things. So, when you see in the news that they're introducing legislation on the federal level to decriminalize cannabis, you should absolutely get behind it.

Now, which bill is the right bill to pass? I think here soon we're going to have three competing bills, if not four, and it just tells you that we're headed in the right direction. I don't think it's going to happen even next year. I think it's probably a 2023 or even, maybe, a 2024 thing, but I think we're going to get there. But this is another one of those reasons that federal law needs to change because courts across the country... one of the most well-known cases was out of Colorado.

I think it was a Dish Network or a DirecTV employee was caught using and he tried to use the law to defend himself. And they said, I'm sorry your employer can still follow federal law on this, and it remains federally illegal. So, that kind of tells you right there. And I think that's what Utah's lawmakers understood. And they actually specifically have written into the law that private employers are not required to accept your Medical Cannabis use. They can challenge it and they don't have to hire you or they can terminate you because of it.

Tim Pickett:

Sure. Now, when I see patients with this type of question that we have and the patient doesn't necessarily want to go to their employer and say, "Oh, well, what about medical cannabis?" Right? You don't want to raise the flag and bring attention to yourself. My comment is usually, "Well, you know, they can make their own rules," because of what you just said, with federal law.

However, if you are going to use cannabis, you are certainly better off having a card than you are not having a card. Agreed. Because, not having a medical cannabis card, you're basically setting yourself up to fail.

J.D. Lauritzen:

For sure, because then you really do have no right to say, "I'm consuming this in a legal form," right? It would be better for your employer to understand that you have a Medical Cannabis Card than just "I bought it from Joe down the street." I mean, that's not going to get you.. I think a medical card, your employer may be more willing. But, too, more and more employers across the country, private employers, are becoming accommodating of cannabis, and the laws are changing all the time in different states and different cities. And even some really big cities have done away with the ability to drug test. So, you hope that the trend continues in that direction. But a change in federal law will go the longest way to making sure that happens.

Tim Pickett:

I will mention, we didn't mention in this slide, that if you're a veteran, they cannot take away. The government is not going to take away your benefits by participating in a medical cannabis program. That's in the... I think it's like the Farm Bill 2018, something like that states that they cannot take away veterans' benefits by participating in a state-run medical cannabis program. Yeah, and that's just kind of the general flavor that the feds have taken, really, since the Obama Administration, even though there were still raids in California and other places during the Obama Administration.

The Cole Memo, which has since been rescinded. But the Cole Memo really kind of said, Hey, and there's been and they put they put different things in budget bills and different things to where the DOJ can't spend money prosecuting individuals and/or businesses that are involved in state-legal cannabis. So you're safe to know that the feds are probably not going to come after you. I think that's a thing of the past. "Never say never," but I think it's more and more becoming a thing of the past. The feds don't want to be involved in state-legal cannabis operations. They're more interested in those operating in the illicit market.

Tim Pickett:

So testing, essentially, can determine... Urine testing, the testing that everybody probably here in this in this presentation is going to encounter, essentially, is going to determine whether somebody has consumed THC in the past one to two weeks. It's not going to determine the amount of consumption, doesn't determine any level of impairment at any given time, and it cannot determine recreational versus medicinal use. Just some information for you there. So we've kind of reached the end of the... the standard questions that we get, and I think we've answered one of these questions that was posed to us.

The other question that we have from Preston is: "I'm currently on..." Let's see. Let's see. Possession of marijuana a year ago. Yeah. Oh, boy, this is difficult, So, I think with this question...You're just going to need as much documentation... From my side, what I do in cases like this is I provide a letter for the patient. I provide, even if they need a detailed description of their medical condition, right? I'll provide that. Treatment history of different things that they've tried. You basically just want to gather all of the evidence, right? All of the objective evidence that you can to present in order to to attempt to protect yourself. J.D. Do you have any additional? Gosh, I feel like these probation questions and things like this are always just so nuanced.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, they definitely are. And I think, for Preston, I think make sure you have a good criminal defense attorney. I know they don't necessarily come cheap, but I think having a good attorney because I think that one of the best ways... not only what Tim said is very well, well-heeded advice, but I also think if your attorney or you can make sure the terms of your probation specifically allow for your Medical Cannabis use, they should accommodate that. Like I said, they shouldn't treat it different than any other prescribed controlled substance. So making sure the terms of your probation match with that and you may have to go back to the court and the judge to get that change. But what Tim said is absolutely accurate. And just helping these POs that have seen cannabis as not a good thing for so long that you can be a good, productive member of society.

So keeping yourself, your nose clean otherwise. But I would recommend counseling with a criminal defense attorney, either the one that helped you with your case or someone else, and really trying to make sure the terms of your probation are consistent with your ability to use Medical Cannabis, because then that's what the probation officer is supposed to go off of. I don't know all of the facts of your case, but a good place to start is what Tim said. And then also what I've said, which is trying to go back and maybe make sure the terms of your probation reflect that. And that's those can that can always be modified.

Tim Pickett:

Megan asks: "Hello, I'm a patient recently accepted into a nursing program. I've heard drug testing [is] involved. Asked to take a test and I wanted to ask if I am protected as a cannabis patient in Utah or do I risk losing the opportunity to participate without a legal leg to stand on?" So, like I said before, I think you're certainly better off with a card than not if you're going to test positive. That I think is just... that should be set in stone, right?

The other piece of this is it depends on who you work for. So if you're a University of Utah student or employee, then maybe, J.D., we qualify under some state guidance, right? Because we're state employees, if we work for the University of Utah. And in that hospital, you're considered a state employee. From a liability standpoint, I know that from a provider standpoint, IHC also has a Medical Cannabis program and allows their providers to issue cards and recommendations. So you would think that would help, even though they're a private employer and may have their policies.

I know Steward Medical Group or now HCA, as they're known now because St Mark's in Lakeview bought Steward Medical Group in Utah. They have a no-tolerance policy because they're they're a national company, they're multistate, and so they feel like they needed to do that. I used to work for them.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, I think for Megan, I think I would tell you, you're going to want to look at the paperwork that you sign for the nursing program and read that. You may need to contact a lawyer to help you understand some of the legalese in there. But I think that may that may necessarily tell you, but this is one of those things, kind of, where it depends on what the program is willing to do and not willing to work with. So I would read any type of paperwork you're given, any type of paperwork you're asked to sign. I think you're going to want to go through that with a fine tooth comb and really see what it says about drug testing, if there is any sort of consideration for you being a medical cannabis patient.

It's just, this is another one of those instances where it's sad because people are being asked to choose between, necessarily, their livelihood and their cannabis consumption. And this is why, over time, I think this will change. But we're still in the era where "Reefer Madness" lives in certain places in society still. So I would say: read the paperwork you have, contact a lawyer to help you understand it better. And sadly, if if they if they have kind of a no-tolerance policy, even for you being a Medical Cannabis patient, short of it being a political subdivision or a state program or the government, you're not going to have any protections. That's just the reality of what we're facing.

Tim Pickett:

And I'll tell you right now, if you're a nurse, you, you want those jobs because those nurses are making money, right? These travel nurses are making 140 bucks an hour, some of them in that, because there is such a demand for nurses because of COVID and this shortage. It's crazy in the hospitals. OK, Lucas. He's got a Magic Flight Box flower vape. Have you ever seen one of these, J.D.?

J.D. Lauritzen:

No, when he put that one up there, I was like, "I've not heard of that one." I've got to look this up. It combusts the flower? I must say, the name of it sounds intriguing. Yeah, and I'm guessing it probably just heats it up too much, to the point where it probably gets a little bit of a burn on it. But I'm not sure... Obviously, we didn't say this at the outset. We can say it now. Nothing I'm saying here is legal advice. Nothing forms an attorney-client relationship between me and any of the viewers here, even those that have dropped off.

But I think it would be a hard argument to say, "Hey, I have a vaporizer and somehow it heated my cannabis to a point where it burned it a little bit." that somehow the prosecutor would make a successful argument to a judge or a jury that you had burned the cannabis. But if it's something you're nervous about and, Lucas, if you've got the financial wherewithal to get you a different vaporizer device that won't cause that type of problem, you should look into doing so.

But, based upon your question, I still think you're within the legal means of consumption. It just so happened your device might just have heated up too much.

Tim Pickett:

You're going out of your way to not use a flame. That's what I'm saying. I think you're going to be OK. Okay, one more question. "What all do I need to have with me to legally carry my cannabis?" Oh, good question. We have a slide about this, but we didn't include it. I've been told I also need to keep the original packaging, as well as the adhesive slip that's attached. Oh, Lucas, sorry, but you're right.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah. Lucas, you're absolutely accurate. I even tell people sometimes keep the receipt because I've heard of at least one story where a patient was cited and had their cannabis confiscated or they didn't have the receipt. Now, when traveling with it, always have your card. Keep it in the bag that you got from the pharmacy. Or, if you're traveling with it some other way, keep it in an opaque, in an opaque bag. I would get one of those smell-proof bags. I actually, myself, have a smell-proof backpack that I travel with. Made by Dimebags. Dimebags has great, great products that you can lock, and they're completely smell-proof. So always keep it in your trunk, not in the area of the vehicle where you can reach for it. Keep it in the original packaging to the best you can.

With flower, you have to keep it in the original jar with all of the labels on it. But I also recommend that for other products, whether or not it's required, you run the risk of law enforcement, not liking the way you have your cannabis and you give yourself the best shot possible if you can show them the original packaging, original labeling and as dumb as it sounds, the maybe even the receipt. So it's, you know, it's just it's almost going over the top to make sure that you're compliant, because law enforcement still is just not always hip to all the laws.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, absolutely. Do you anticipate any legislation protecting patients from price-fixing? The monopoly has prices in Utah, 400% that of its neighbor. I don't know. I think Oregon, Washington, we definitely have higher prices than that, but I was in Vegas. The prices are pretty comparable. But that being said, aside from whether or not the price fluctuations are there, do we think there's going to be any legislation to reduce prices? I would say no. I think that the amount of the quantity of product that's coming out now is going to drive the prices down.

Plus, I think, second... that's the if you watch like, for example, if you're on our newsletter, then you'll see all of the different pharmacies' coupons and you could purchase products at that, right? I don't know. I don't think there's going to be any legislation for it.

J.D. Lauritzen:

No, not that I've heard of. But I... we're definitely cognizant of this fact. You want to know the easiest way to make prices come down is to get rid of federal illegality. Go learn about Section 280E of the Tax Code and you'll understand why prices are what they are. And I think sometimes it's unfair to compare Utah, a newer medical market, to, say, Colorado, that's our neighbor, right? That has a fully stood-up adult-use market, right? Prices are going to be very, very different.

But I'm also very sensitive to the idea of what prices are here in Utah, and they will come down for the reasons that Tim talked about. But you get rid of federal illegality that will help prices come down even more. And, I think, as production continues to ramp, I think that will... you'll see more competitive prices. But I do know that the Legislature is at least mulling the idea of using some of that $3 state fee that patients pay per transaction, that fund that it goes into to maybe create some type of subsidy or something like that. Whether that'll happen this session or not, I have at least heard it as an idea. But you know,, it's too bad the prices are what they are. But when you compare us to other similar medical markets, we are on par, if not below.

But, where we're surrounded by mostly adult-use states, of course you're going to see prices that are very, very different.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah, that's just a hard one too, because the clinic visits are expensive, too. And we we talk about this all the time, too, because there's patient caps, right? We can only see so many patients. And so there is that limited supply of the ability for providers to see people. There's all kinds of little things that we could do to lower the prices. Is it better than it was when it began? Sure. Does it need to get a lot better? Yes. Would home grow make it a lot better? Absolutely. So again, like you say, we just need to continue to push and continue to reach out to the Legislature and try to modify things as we go. OK, so this question is about the guns and somewhat vague. The part that we talked about the guns was somewhat vague. I'm a cardholder. As a cardholder, I can still have guns in my household and not have any legal issues. Is that correct?

J.D. Lauritzen:

I mean, like I said, the point remains true. Under federal law, absolutely not. Cannabis possession and guns together are a federal crime. Now, is the DOJ going to come to your house and bust your door down? No. W hat we were talking about is much more with concealed carry. That's where it gets a lot stickier. But under Utah law, Utah law enforcement is not going to. They're prohibited from expending any resources or their own time to enforce federal cannabis laws in Utah.

So, you are correct in the sense that because law enforcement is prevented from doing that, expending those resources or time that they're likely not going to come to your home. What I was more talking about is concealed carry. Your ability to open carry your gun in Utah and have cannabis should be protected. It's just new gun ownership. Prior gun ownership, it depends. Were you a Medical Cannabis person/user at the time you got the gun before? What did you say on the ATF form? It all kind of depends on all of that. But, generally, yes, as a cannabis user, you can still have your guns. Not under federal law, but here in Utah, you should be protected. But a lot of it just depends on how you acquired the gun, whether we're talking about concealed carry or not.

So you're completely correct. It is vague. It's as clear as mud in a lot of ways, and it's one of those things, I just keep hearkening back to it, but if federal law were to change, we would have a much clearer answer for you.

Tim Pickett:

Yeah.

J.D. Lauritzen:

I would always consult with an attorney, a private attorney, about some of these issues, especially those that understand gun rights. There's good resources on the internet, on some of these issues as well. I wish we could be less... I wish we could be more clear for you. But at this point, it's it's one of those issues that's really clouded by the continued federal illegality.

Tim Pickett:

Sure, I get this question all the time in my clinic. Is it legal for me to make my own edibles, right? For me to make my own butter? And there really isn't anything in the statute that would prohibit somebody from making their own food products from cannabis oil, flower, that they bought legally.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, you're 100% correct. What you do in your own home with the flower that you purchase, short of smoking it. There is no prohibition against you making your own cannabutter or anything  with your AVB. I, myself, am the owner of a Levo. And it's just, I make it like I make coffee and I really enjoy being able to make my own stuff. So yes, you are safe to do that. There's just nothing in the law that says anything one way or another and, because there isn't at this point, you are safe, you're safe to do that. So what you do in your own home with your flower outside of smoking it, like I said, should be just fine.

Tim Pickett:

I'd add that because you've transformed it into something different. Traveling with it is probably not recommended.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, I'd definitely keep it in your home, if you've changed it into some other type of product. I would hate to try to have an argument with law enforcement on the side of the highway about where my cannabutter came from.

Tim Pickett:

Right? Yeah, absolutely. This went pretty good. So I mean, here you go. You can follow us here. You follow us at WholesomeCo Cannabis online. UtahMarijuana.org, there's our website. So one of the best ways to ask a question for J.D. or for me is to go to this Discover Marijuana YouTube channel. Pick any video. Make a comment. Because I look through all of the comments and I essentially want to answer all of them. Plus, it gives us ideas for videos we want to produce and make. And if you have this question, somebody else, ten other people probably have it. So if you want to reach out to us, that's probably the best way to do it. J.D., thanks for coming. This has been really exciting to talk about.

J.D. Lauritzen:

Yeah, Tim. Thanks for having me on and thank you for everybody that attended. And hey, if you ever see me out in the wild, feel free to come and talk to me. If you ever come to the WholesomeCo pharmacy and you have a question or you want to talk to me, I'm usually there most days. So, I'm always happy to chat.

Tim Pickett:

Great. Thanks, everybody. Stay safe out there.

By UtahMarijuana.org
Published December 3, 2021
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